Concert Review: Harlem, Tulsa, Girlfriends, DJ Carbo @ Great Scott (4/25/10)

Artists: Harlem, Tulsa, Girfriends, DJ Carbo
Location: Great Scott, Allston, MA (not Austin, Texas as my French Professuer thought I said lol)
Date: Sunday, April 25, 2010

Act I: Girlfriends: For starters, they were a notable opening band, a treat I as a fairly common concertgoer am not always acustom to. The songs were modestly catchy, meaing they didn’t hit you a la Box Elders, but they had an inviting aura, which kept me paying attention and possibly will make me check out their music further, a rare feat for opening acts, for me at least. The guitartist displayed some sweet showmanship: playing guitar with his teeth and behind his back. As a whole they rocked out and delivered a rather energetic performance.

Glen: Girlfriends are pretty special. About two or three songs deep into their set, I became convinced that they are awesome. Their flavor of power-pop/garage rock/punk was simply catchy and fun. It was nice to see the guitarist/vocalist rock out and play with a kind of passion that seems to be lacking from most openers. If I was forced to compare them to some bands I’d go with Blue Album era Weezer and The Ponys. They have a shit ton of local and national dates booked up through August. If you like this kind of music, do some reading up, yo.

Act II: Tulsa – I don’t have much to say here. About two songs in, I was mentally through with them. I just couldn’t wait for the singer to say, “this is our last one tonight.” They’re talented musicians and all, but their songs don’t come through to me. It’s more of a case of individal parts, rather than a sum. It’s the sum that matters to my ears. That’s what makes a memorable band. In other words, they bored me.

Glen: Tulsa, guys. You had me going for a little while. A little while! It’s kind of hard to describe your sound; all I know is that I was feeling all fast-paced and shit until you came on. Buzzkill, kind of. Listening to you after the fact (aka right now on MySpace), I actually dig y’all. That said, your set was draggy and maybe you shouldn’t have played that extra fan request at the end. Just saying. Random pairing I guess?

Act III: Harlem: I can see why they named their album Hippies. Looking and behaving like mellow, “yeah dude,” hippies, really enthusiastic to put on a show. They must have taken giggle juice before the show, because they were lit up with laughter and smirks, snickering the entire performance. It was amusing as a crowd member. Their joy came through in their energetic, astonishingly fast (not of the Jay variety, but pretty damn quick) performance. Unfortunately this energy didn’t seap into the audience, whom were really boring fucks! I mean I was rocking out and pogoing and what have you, and a few others were too, but most just stood and stared. Alas, the trio didn’t seem as into the show as one may have hoped and their set was under 30 minutes, if I’m not mistaken. I appreciated their humor about the situation. They constantly amused themselves and the audience with their lighthearted demeanor. I really dug the way the members switched back and forth from drums to guitar, something I rarely see live unless it’s just for fun, which of course all of this is, but these dudes were playing some of their best material, not just random strummings lol. In mellow, hippie fashion, they asked each other on stage which songs they would play, without having a big Congressional hearing about it either. So, one could find humor in it, without getting impatient with the artists. I must say they have a great pop sensability and I hear a lot of the Kinks in their music. Maybe it’s just me… Most of their songs sound the same or very similar and I DO NOT mean that in mean manner lol. It’s a great sound and it works like a charm. If it was AC/DC’s sound I can only deal with that for a few tunes, but not Harlem, it works everytime for me. In other senses, their numbers are not all the “same,” but I really dig that big ass drum beat, the jangely, garagey guitars, and the poppy, sing along vocals. But, I digress… Anyway, they played many of my favorites from their recent LP: “Friendly Ghost,” “Be Your Baby,” “Gay Human Bones,” “Torture,” and others. FG and GHB were wise openers and closers, respectively. I wish they played other Hippies tracks like “Poolside” and “Pissed,” but what are you going to do? My other complaint was the length. I expected them to play wayyyy longer, oh well, if the crowd was more engaging than perhaps we would have seen/heard more jams. They came back for what I call a “reluctanct encore” and then goodnight.

Glen: So it’s pretty known. Hippies is currently the best long-player (out of about fifty) I’ve heard in the Year 2010 and that’s that. You probably know Harlem’s deal: they got a huge ass bass drum leftover from the Middle Ages AND Michael Coomers and Curtis O’Mara alternate between drums and guitar. That’s that. It was a pleasurable concert experience for me having them bang out ditties in Jay Reatard 25 minute fashion. I also noticed that most songs were way more sped up live than on record like the opener “Friendly Ghost.” “Beautiful and Very Smart” was touching, as was the encore “Caroline” — both of these off the band’s 2008 LP goodie Free Drugs;-)

Set Included (no particular order, save the first one):
1. “Friendly Ghost”
2. “Torture”
3. “Number One”
4. “Be Your Baby”
5. “Gay Human Bones”
6. “Tila And I”
7. “South of France”
8. “Caroline”
9. “Beautiful and Very Smart”
10. “Someday Soon”

Final Grade:
Chris: (B+)- I enjoyed myself and was stunned at how great Harlem sounded, but I just needed more! Overall, a good show.
Glen: (A-)  —–> A great show, but I wouldn’t say a top one.

Chris and Glen

Wavves @ Great Scott

Wavves is coming through town on June 22, 2010. They’ll be playing at Great Scott, where they played in September (KLYAM was in attendance). That show was pretty solid…I mean I only recognized “So Bored” and “No Hope Kids,” but still was pretty solid. Is it worth ten singles? It may be worth ten singles just to see semi-new members Billy Hayes and Stephen Pope, formerly of Jay Reatard. I can’t really picture them playing along to noise.

Concert Review: Vivian Girls, Male Bonding, You Can Be A Wesley @ Great Scott (3/8/10)

Bands: Vivian Girls, Male Bonding, You Can Be A Wesley
Venue: Great Scott (Allston, MA)
Date: Monday, March 8, 2010

Act OneYou Can Be A Wesley – I really liked this band. They rocked out and genuinely seemed passionate about playing music. That said, the vocals weren’t that loud and the drums really took precedent. Also, the band had a guy take care of playing videos on the screen behind the drummer. That was a bit unnecessary in my opinion and almost pigeon holes the band as just your average opening act. They weren’t just your average opening act, though. They’re better than that and judging from the audience’s response, it seems like they’ve built quite a local following. The jams weren’t exactly assaults on the ear, but they were straight up rockers. Awkward band name.

Act TwoMale Bonding – First, props to the guitarist/singer for having stickers of No Age and Happy Birthday on his little effects pedal bag. Second, I should have liked this band more than I did. They definitely had a No Age + bass thing going on. The extremely thick reverb on the vocals ruined it for me. I couldn’t make out a word (literally) that was sung, so they might as well just have put the mics aside. The drummer was getting quite a workout beating the shit out of his drum kit. The guitars were very similar in each song. Straight up punk riffs with some deviation. No one song really struck me as particularly awesome, though. It was basically a case of “oooh, this again. I get it.” Awkward band name.

Act ThreeVivian Girls – I should have done my homework. I heard most of Vivian Girls’ catalog last summer, but I never really got around to consistently listening to the Girls. It’s a shame, though, that I didn’t make much of an effort to at least re-listen to Everything Goes Wrong, an album that I awarded a really high grade to back in September. The two songs that I recognized were “When I’m Gone” and “Before I Start to Cry.” The latter was really amazing and the former just as awesome. The twelve or so other songs played during the group’s half hour set were affectionate and catchy. They showcased two new songs, which were great. I feel really bad that I couldn’t recognize the other tracks! Seriously, you don’t know how bad I feel. I feel like a casual fan! I guess, at the end of the day, that is what I am.

Grade: B/B-


Vivian Girls, the last remaining great all-girl group that put out a record in 2009, will be playing at Allston’s Great Scott on March 8. Unfortunately for some folks that might suck because it’s on a Monday night. Tickets are $10 and are available for purchase at the venue or online. Opening for the Girls will be Male Bonding, a pretty sweet UK noise/garage outfit.

Top 3 Concert Venues In 2009!

Metal railings...seriously? What band is that?!

Middle East Downstairs

Headlining Bands: Black Lips, Sunset Rubdown, The Walkmen, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, King Khan & BBQ Show

Great Scott
Headlining Bands: Handsome Furs, Head Automatica, Warlocks, Rifles, Wavves

Harpers Ferry

Headlining Bands: Jay Reatard, Trevor Hall

Honorable Mentions: Paradise Rock Club (Arctic Monkeys, King Khan & Shrines), House of Blues (Animal Collective, Arctic Monkeys), Wilbur Theatre (Sonic Youth), and Wang Theatre (Pixies).

Concert Review: Wavves, Ganglians, Many Mansions @ Great Scott (9/27/09)

Bands: Many Mansions, Ganglians, Wavves
Venue: Great Scott (Allston, MA)
Date: Sunday, September 27, 2009

Many Mansions
This band embodies what has become of the psychedelic trance/drum and bass genre. Their set up was different for sure: one man controlling the drum and bass machine, the effects pedals, and singing while the other dude was just on stage to (apparently) play with the visuals on the projector. And the visuals were weird as hell. Some of the images: an African boy running in a field, an African guy nailed to a cross and decaying, trees, a bunch of people moving away from a building, people break dancing, and an African woman doing a dance in the forest. These images did all sorts of crazy things like spin, flip, illuminate, and fade. The visual arts component was better than the music. I felt bored by the music, at least initially. A few of the electronic drum schemes were catchy and maybe one song was actually “good,” but other than that this band just didn’t do too much for me.

The best I can describe Ganglians is proto-Wavves. They played a lot of catchy noise-pop that certainly the crowd was into. There was definitely an element of their music (the bass lines, probably) that really allowed for dancing and grooving. The lead singer was rocking out and everyone in the band looked like they were having a blast. I sensed a lot of Jay Reatard garage-pop, especially in the drumming and singing. There was one number in particular that had a near identical drum part as “Blood Visions.” A song I highly recommend checking out that they played is “Blood on the Sand.” “Hair” had me mistaking this band for the War on Drugs with its active keyboards. Overall, this was a really good second band!

After ten minutes of “technical difficulties,” the crowd got a little antsy. Like…maybe Nathan Williams consumed Valium and E before the show and couldn’t figure out which amp to plug his guitar into. Or maybe not since the only amp on stage was a huge Marshall double-stack mammajamma. Safe to say that no public breakdown happened last night. Williams, with his New York Death Adders hat and tee, welcomed the crowd saying “Hi, we’re Wavves” before blasting into “So Bored,” my favorite song! Everyone easily recognized this song because it’s Wavves’ biggest and just started going nuts, singing along, dancing, etc. The next set of seven or eight songs potentially ended with the word “Goth” or “Demon,” I just can’t remember. That’s because there was, at least for me, an unexpected amount of moshing. The first I got hit I was kind of like wtf okay that’s cool. But then I looked behind me and people were getting pushed around like crazy, bumping into each other. So the next twenty minutes turned out to be an awesome re-visitation of old No Age shows, because of both the music (noisy punk) and the crowd response (moshing). The final song they played was “No Hope Kids,” an awesome song to end the show! Pure pop beneath the massive wall of noise. Unfortunately they only played for 30 minutes, but it was a lengthy 30 minutes. After sweating my ass off from all the moshing and losing track of time, it felt like just enough.

Final Comments: Wavves put on a great show and the experience of watching them play was very top notch. Wouldn’t it have been better if I knew a majority of the songs performed? Probably. I didn’t let them bug me and in the end I walked out of Great Scott knowing that I had a shitload of fun. That said, this show is not comparable to some of the best shows I’ve seen. I would give it somewhere in the B+/B range.

Crowd during Wavves
Crowd during Wavves
Once Nathan Williams got stuff to work, all was well
Once Nathan Williams got stuff to work, all was well!

Reviews: Sunset Rubdown (6/11/09) & Handsome Furs (7/6/09)

Sunset Rubdown – Middle East Downstairs – June 11
1. Empty threats of little lord
2. Idiot heart
3. Black swan
4. Taming of the hands
5. Silver moons
6. Coming to at dawn
7. You go on ahead
8. Paper lace
9. Winged wicked things
10. Snakes got a leg
11. Dragon
12. Nightengale/December song
13. Apollo and the buffalo…
14. Mending of the gown

An hour and a half filled with a mix of old and new, down-tempo and up-tempo, the genius that is Spencer Krug, and epicness. Sunset Rubdown gave one of the best efforts that I’ve seen from a band.

Continue reading “Reviews: Sunset Rubdown (6/11/09) & Handsome Furs (7/6/09)”